Tesla reportedly approaches LG, Samsung and SK for Model 3 batteries

Samsung SDI High-performance 18650 battery

Japanese giant Panasonic is currently Tesla’s exclusive battery partner, but as its battery needs balloon along with demand for the upcoming Model 3, it’s only logical that the California company should keep its options open with other suppliers.

The Korea Times reported that Tesla has approached LG Chem, Samsung SDI and SK Innovation. Tesla executives recently visited research centers to hold working-level meetings with all three Korean battery-makers.

The three firms are keen to boost their ties with Tesla, as Model 3 is expected to be the catalyst for a massive increase in EV sales around the world, according to an unnamed official quoted by the Korea Times: “The three Korean battery manufacturers can’t afford to lose the new business given the Model 3’s impressive initial responses from customers.”

Meanwhile, Panasonic says it is ready to bring its investment in the Gigafactory forward if needed. The current plan is for Panasonic to contribute $1.6 billion in phases over the next few years.

“We will do our best to move up the schedule if requested,” Yoshio Ito, head of Panasonic’s Automotive and Industrial Systems Division, told Reuters. “We just don’t want to be a bottleneck.”

Update: Musk says Panasonic will be exclusive battery supplier for Model 3


Sources: Korea Times, Reuters

  • Robert Cattle

    Still don’t know if it’s the lithium iron phosphate or nickel/ cobalt with DMC or whatever
    I,l judge the safety and performance long term on Gr answer?

    • Electric Bill

      Lithium iron phosphate (LiFe PO4) has never been used in Teslas so far as I know and is unlikely ever to be used since its main advantage is nonvolatility–no fires or explosions. Its downside is that it has a lower energy density, limiting range 0 chsrge, which is the highest priority for Tesla until such time as energy density improves enough that it is no longer as critical.

      EVs already have the advantage in several areas– simplicity, power density (usable torque, as opposed to energy density), safety (EVs do not catch fire and are far less, prone to roll-over accidents due to their lower center of gravity), quietness and low operational costs.

      Where EV and battery tech are concentrating now is cost and energy density (read range), since these are the factors most people give as reasons they are still driving ICE cars.

      The Gigafactory is expected to dramatically lower battery cell cost, but the chemistries Tesla has been using so far require somewhat complex thermal monitoring and management to prevent thermal runaway (fires).

      Tesla monitors some 60 various different chemistry and cell design approaches by dozens of universities, research labs and corporations such as IBM and Panasonic. As soon as any tech matures enough to be used reliably on their assembly line, the Gigafactory will be ready to implement such changes.

      Let’s hope The Next Big Thing will provide lots of range, drop the cost by thousands of dollars, be durable enough to last for thousands of charge cycles, and be ready by the time the Model 3 starts to roll off the assembly line in a year or so.

      The one new battery tech I find most interesting and perhaps .Right have the edge is a “ceramic nanopore” battery being developed by the University of, Maryland in Baltimore


      The prototype they have been testing has shown to have only light degradation of energy density after several thousand charge cycles. It appears they, are working on reducing production time and cost.

      • Robert Cattle

        Thanks Bill, —I smile —-as whilst retired now, I was director of SAFT UK Ltd in charge of Lithium primary development in the 1970,s and consultant in the 1980,s+. !! I, like all past battery developers, have watched lithium primary and secondary developments remembering where the military went years ago etc. I,m still an iron phosphate man, if treated in specific manners and designed for the need (Johnson Matthey etc) , despite being not in the present published Tesla style, which I am waiting to see depth of discharge, temperature effects, safety and cycle numbers on a mass scale, over bumpy roads.!?
        I was a proponent of bicycle batteries– and railway, (highly monitored power use,). Then static home power sources—with EV,s very far into the future for 300 mile pre charge needs, 5000 cycles over a wide thermal spread. As For Lithium APU aircraft uses just to save 80 KG, I am still a Ni-Cd person. Yes Lithium for applications small/solid state (big EV power sources, still leaves me with questionable thoughts? (As a Chemist)

  • Greg Shiff

    There is a Lithium mining boom happening right now just to the South of the Tesla Gigafactory . Last year the Sliver Peak (Clayton Basin) mine the only producing Lithium mine in North America, was purchased for $6.2 Billion USD. This has triggered an exploration Bonanza in Nevada in search of the next (Salt Brine ) Lithium mine. Elon, has stated that when this Giga-Factory reaches 500,000 units per year that it absorb all the Lithium production in the world. This Miner is exploring the “Kibby Basin” which is the closet Lithium prospect to the Tesla, Nevada, Giga factory. Highly speculative. Please due your due diligence.